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'Harry Potter Generation' Marks End of an Era

By Andrea Swalec | July 12, 2011 11:30am | Updated on July 14, 2011 8:35am

MANHATTAN — Asia Tail, a 20-year-old Cooper Union art student, still remembers what a big letdown her 11th birthday was.

After her mother had read every Harry Potter book to her, Asia was hoping for the same birthday present the boy wizard got at her age — an acceptance letter to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

"I remember being disappointed when I turned 11 and nothing happened," Tail said.

With Friday's upcoming release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2," the final movie in J.K. Rowling's blockbuster series, a generation is reflecting on having grown up with Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Maricela Gonzalez, 20, a film and political science student at Columbia University, began reading the series at age 9. She said its conclusion represents the end of an era for her.

"It really is the end of childhood," she said. "The end of Harry Potter says that it's time for me to grow up."

Christina Lio, 23, a film student at Hunter College, said she was exactly Harry Potter's age when she first read the books in junior high.

Lio and other fans — who go to "wizard rock" shows with Potter-related lyrics, dress up as the books' characters and play a non-magical version of Quidditch — said the series has had a formative effect on them.

Lio said she learned from the books that "even if you have magical powers, you are going to grow up with problems."

Irvin Khytman, a 19-year-old New York University accounting student who sees his Harry Potter fan friends three or four times a week, said he thinks "acceptance" is one of the key themes of the series.

His Meetup.com group, "The Group That Shall Not Be Named," has members of every race, religion, sexuality and age, he said.

Gonzalez said the young wizards taught her a similar value: "the power of love over intolerance."

Harry Potter characters grew up along with their readers, awkward teen years and all, Tail said.

"Anyone who's ever been a teenager can relate to Neville's teenage angst," Tail said about the character Neville Longbottom, who started out as a clumsy tween wizard and developed into a valued, and valiant, defender of Hogwarts.

Most of the fans DNAinfo spoke with had reserved tickets to see the final Harry Potter film in IMAX 3-D at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13. Friday's 12:01 a.m. showing of the PG-13 film sold out in mid-June, a theater employee said.

Like any purist, Potter fan Ana Meyer, 26, said she preferred the books to the films and was a little nervous to see the last movie. She bought a ticket to see the midnight screening, but said at least one scene in the film's trailer, in which Harry and Voldemort stand on a cliff, wasn't in the book.

"It's such a great series that it can stand on its own," said Meyer, an education student and Lower East Side resident.

Tail said that though the books were more meaningful to her than the films, the release of the final film still stings.

"The books were a more intense goodbye, but with the movies, now it's really ending," she said.

The film series alone has earned $6.4 billion globally thus far, giving J.K. Rowling a net worth of $1 billion, according to Forbes.

For Lio—who owns magic wands and once sewed herself a black robe and pinned a Ravenclaw crest to the front—the world of wizards, spells and triumph over evil will live on beyond the final film.

"The series may be over and the books and movies may be over, but the Harry Potter series won't ever be over," she said.